Christ: His Work and Testimony

Colossians 1

J. N. Darby.

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It is not the body and its privileges we have here, but the Head and its fulness; not the Spirit, but Christ as our life. But this is quite as momentous. So also we have the walk in view of the hope. We see where the apostle puts us as thus risen with Christ, and yet walking down here, and so a question of finishing our course. In Ephesians we come forth from God, and, being with Him there, shew out His character as Christ did. If I say I am risen, let me walk as risen; if justified from sin, yield myself unto God, dead to sin, and alive from the dead.

Verse 4. He had heard of their love to all saints. But one cannot get the knowledge of His will unless it is connected with all saints; for Christ's heart does take in all, and if we do not, we fail to embrace that of which His eye has taken in the circle; Eph. 3:18. The moment we get into a risen state, we are all one. We are Jews, Gentiles, all sorts of things, when looked at as men on the earth; but when risen, all that is done with.

There are two things — one may say three — which we have in the resurrection of Christ. First, the testimony of God is to the full acceptance of Christ's work — "God hath raised him from the dead"; and, secondly, the effect of that, which is a new place with God altogether where neither Jew nor Gentile, neither Adam innocent nor Adam guilty, ever were. It is an entrance into an entirely new condition; we belong to a new creation altogether. This, beloved friends, is of all moment to our hearts — the consciousness of our relationship with God. As to Christ, sins are past, judgment past, death past, Satan's power past, when He rose from the dead. His death had been a terrible testimony to the state of the old man — it was a total breach with man in the flesh. "Let no fruit grow upon thee henceforth and for ever.?" We never get fully into the consciousness of our proper blessing till we clearly and distinctly understand, not only that we are guilty, but that the tree is bad. God has set aside man, and in the flesh he cannot please God; he has no actual living connection with Him whatever — no life, no nature, in which He can please Him; Rom. 8. When we talk of being risen with Christ, we have left all that scene behind us which Christ has left behind; not of the world, as He is not of it, though we have to go through it, of course, and to keep ourselves unspotted from it. Christ got into life again — a totally new state past all these things; we are crucified with Him, dead to sin and the world, and in this new condition in which Christ is now. He was there dying under our sins — we, found dead in them, and now quickened along with Him, with all our trespasses forgiven. In Colossians it is only this change of position, not all that it involves.

205 The apostle desired for them that they should be walking here as risen men, filled with knowledge, that there might be the doing of His will. There is a path which the vulture's eye has not seen, but which is unfolded in Christ, which He has tracked for us, and "he that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." If you look at Christ, you never see one single thing done for Himself: perfect grace, a testimony to the will of God, which is known only spiritually, not legal righteousness. Is it such righteousness to be smitten on one cheek, and turn the other? That is the only thing we have now to look for, which will not be found even in heaven — a perfect path in the midst of evil.

It is a trying path often: people will now and then trample upon you; but is my object to keep Christ, or my character? You will soon find in that way what the motive that governs you is. If the eye is single, you will get knowledge from God as the vulture, the most clear-seeing thing there is. The eye of Christ in us sees the thing that pleases Christ, and, of course, the world cannot understand that at all. They may admire it, for they see the unselfishness of it. The more we go on, and the more evil grows up, infidelity, corruption, and superstition, the more that faithfulness will tell. The world may not understand why a person gives up all he has, but it sees that he does so — that there are motives which govern the heart soberly and quietly. Bring the word of God to them: they do not think it is a good sword, but it is; for it reaches the conscience, and no man is an infidel in his conscience. In the midst of this poor selfish world, if there is a person who is living entirely for another, they cannot understand it. The fact that they cannot understand it makes them understand it in one sense: they see there is something they cannot understand.

Verse 10. "Walk worthy of the Lord" — the whole object of the Christian in his going out and coming in, in his whole path in life. What a wonderful privilege! A poor creature in myself, but called on to walk worthy of the Lord. Beloved brethren, think of it!

206 Verse 11. "Strengthened with all might . . . unto all patience and long-suffering." What was Christ's life? All patience and long-suffering; everything was against Him, and His path the path of unchanging goodness, of all patience and long-suffering, in passing along. Seek in this world patience and long-suffering. The world, being a world which will not have the principles of the Christian, will not have Christ; our path in it is patience — patience in service with souls. Souls are full of themselves, but always at bottom there is a want. "Redeeming the time," not diligence, but seeking opportunities which are given, and being so full of Christ that I do not miss them when given. Patience may seem a little thing, but just try your own heart, and see if it does not test you. Saul waited six days and three quarters, and lost the kingdom because he could not wait the other quarter. He acted for himself. Nature could wait a long time, but could not go through with the thing. Patience acts for God: "Let patience have its perfect work." Christ never did His own will; you are set to do His will, sanctified to His obedience.

Now the apostle lays the ground which I had on my heart at the beginning; but what I have been saying is of all practical importance. The light is my place. We never can give a right testimony, or be servants to others, till our own relationships with God are perfectly settled. You cannot carry the testimony of God with intelligence unless you know your own place. It is not that you talk about yourself, but can you say in God's presence, "I am thanking Thee because Thou hast made me meet"? The walk is all founded upon this: I insist on it, for we all know how it is rejected, but it is the ground on which all Christians are set. You may go through the deepest exercises (the deeper the better), but when brought into your place as a Christian, you give thanks that He has made you meet. That perfect and infinite love has taken me up, a poor sinner, and made me meet for the light. That is where I am — a blessed thought — it is the perfectness of love; God's thought, and He has carried it out. Supposing me to be actually risen, am I not fit for the inheritance of the saints in light? Self-righteousness (which is a very subtle thing) says, "I am not fit." Why, you do not know yet how bright that light is! But I do know that He, whose love has thought of me, must have that which is fit for His presence, for He is light as well as love, and He has wrought it in Christ. The prodigal was quite as sincere when he set out in his rags as afterwards, but he was not fit to go in till he had the best robe on.

207 Verse 13. "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness," etc. Here we are naturally in Satan's kingdom, the ruler of the darkness of this world. A man may not mean wickedness, but the glory of this world — its grandeur — has influence on the heart. Well, it is darkness, simple darkness, and all the time that is spent there is loss, for everything that is not Christ is loss — there is no life in it. The life of Christ in us cannot be looking after wealth, and power, and vanity — the one thing we have to do in the world is to overcome it. The blinding power of Satan is there, but we are delivered from it. It does not say, "brought into light," but it gives the experimental consciousness of what the light is — "the kingdom of the Son of his love." It is light: I get out of this darkness, which only ministers to my wretched selfishness, to nothing but self, the very opposite of what Christ was. There is one true, holy, blessed place — the presence of God. I have got into (not merely the light, but) the kingdom of the Son. The One who is the delight of the Father's heart, the sufficient and adequate object of the Father's heart, who satisfies and draws out His love — we are brought into the kingdom of that Son. We have to go through the world, which has risen up because man was turned out of paradise; but I have passed out of it into the kingdom where God's perfect delight in His Son is. We have to judge ourselves, and watch, that it may be effectually wrought in us; but here the apostle is giving thanks that it is done — that we are brought, even while here, to know we are loved as Christ is loved. He has given us what is sufficient for His heart and our hearts to delight in, and, in the second place, we are loved as He is loved.

"All things were created by him and for him"; but He could not, in the counsels and love of God, take those things without having joint-heirs — His bride. He has come up, after having wrought redemption, not only Head over everything He has created as man, but also Head of the body, the church.

Verse 21. "And you hath he reconciled"; that is more than "made meet" for what God wants, according to His holy nature. We are not simply fitted, but God has reconciled our hearts now in that perfect love which has come out and wrought all in Christ's death, while the world is not reconciled. The reconciliation of Christians is a present effectual thing, through the knowledge of the perfect love of God, which did not spare His own Son. He has given Him for my sins, blotted them out, and left no uneasiness on my conscience. Not only are my sins forgiven, but I am reconciled to God. Take it up in your consciences, beloved friends: Christ my righteousness, sins all gone, myself loved as He is loved — that is my place. How far can your souls be looking up to God, without one thing to hinder your enjoyment? He has brought us to Himself — brought us into His presence, in the full sense of the unclouded love of His heart.

208 Then we get the effect of this as regards the testimony. Paul was made a minister of two things; and so are we, whether in private dealing with souls, or in public ministry. I have learned this love which reconciles, and I will carry it out to every creature. I carry the love of Christ so in my soul, that, if a want comes, I have what will minister to it — so living in the love of God, with the sense of it in our souls, that it comes out naturally. If I meet souls, do I carry God to them? This is the Christian testimony; we carry this in our own souls, as made meet and reconciled. No matter what comes, difficult times, etc., if I can only carry it out, there is that which, if any one has ears to hear, is heard in the heart. I may be rejected of course, as Christ was, but that is the character of the testimony — the light too, as well as the love.

The second thing is the ministry of the church. This is not to sinners; but you cannot have a due sense of the thoughts and purposes of God in bringing us where He has, without carrying it all with you. The church supposes the fulness of love, and the perfectness of redemption, which breaks through our testimony. If we are conscious of this, that God has called us to be the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, which He is gathering to present to Himself, that love which has been known to us in its fulness will give a stamp and character to everything we say. It would be a gospel which carries its testimony to the ruin of man, but also to the love which is never satisfied till it sets us with the Son. A complete redemption cannot be hid — I cannot preach the gospel without bringing it in. The current of love, which we know, lays the foundation in the heart of all that is built upon it, and it gives another character to the gospel. My being with God, according to that perfect reconciliation, enables me to go out and meet the want of every poor sinner. You may do it in difficulty and trial, but carry that with you; and neither infidelity, nor anything else, can answer it.